Golf and COVID-19: Latest news on course operations

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - MARCH 30: A view of the locked gates at the entrance of Magnolia Lane off Washington Road that leads to the clubhouse of Augusta National on March 30, 2020 in Augusta, Georgia. The Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals has been postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

UPDATE April 7th, 2:12pm ET: Masters week is often considered a kind of "opening day" for the golf business as northern golfers begin to take renewed interest in the game as the weather turns. This week, however, there is no new Masters Tournament to watch. Instead, networks like CBS, ESPN and Golf Channel are rolling out extensive highlights and replay programming.

On Monday, the big news on the tournament-golf front was that the R&A announced they are canceling The Open in 2020, which was originally scheduled for July at Royal St. George's in England. They will hold the 2021 event at St. George's and move St. Andrews to 2022, which is when the 150th Open will be staged. It is the first major championship to be canceled since World War II.

Shortly after the R&A announcement, the Masters revealed they have intended fall dates for the 2020 Masters: Nov. 9-15th. Not long after that, the U.S. Open announced September dates for their championship at Winged Foot. Over the weekend, it was reported the PGA of America had landed on August dates for the PGA Championship. So for 2020 majors, that brings us to the following schedule:

Many golfers in the Midwest and Northeast won't be able to dust off the clubs and play this week. In the Midwest, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan have statewide bans in place. While in the Northeast, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Maryland all prohibit golf. A recent consumer survey conducted by the NBC Sports’ GameChangers panel found three-quarters of avid golfers say golf courses near them are closed due to COVID-19. 83% of avid golfers surveyed said they think playing the sport is an acceptable form of "social distancing." Golfers in Ohio and Indiana however are taking advantage of warmer temperatures and open courses by playing a lot of golf, according to GolfNow field data.

The United States continues to see a rise in daily active COVID-19 cases with with 30,331 reported new cases on April 5 and 368,174 total cases confirmed in the country. States, cities and counties are issuing, extending or clarifying "stay-at-home" or "shelter-in-place" orders across the U.S. Whether golf is viewed as "essential" or not is often open to clarification or legal interpretation. Augusta National may be closed, but GolfNow currently reports that only 23.6% of their golf course partners in the state of Georgia have reported closing due to COVID-19 concerns. The state's shelter-in-place order exempted golf courses.

It appears that for now, statewide bans on playing golf have hit a plateau, but some municipalities and counties are issuing their own mandates that are suspending play at golf courses. As of April 7, the Golf Industry Report provided by GolfNow reports operations are currently suspended at 41% of their U.S. partner courses, a slight increase day-over-day. Some of the stronger markets for demand currently are Carolinas markets Greensboro, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham. Scroll down to view our running log of state, city and county mandates and their affects on current golf operations around the U.S.

Latest golf-related coronavirus news:

Dr John Torres: NBC News Correspondent on pro golf return this summer
Forbes: Whether golfers can play depends on mandate language
40 Republican lawmakers call on Wisconsin Governor to reopen golf courses
San Antonio bans playing golf on public & private courses with new order
Despite state mandate permitting golf, Florida destinations vary greatly on course openings
The Golf Industry Report by GolfNow reports strong activity in the Carolinas, including Greensboro, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham markets.

Is your golf course open? We are compiling the latest news on city, county and statewide shelter-in-place declarations and social distancing measures and how it relates to golf operations. The following Google spreadsheet has our latest news of city, county and statewide golf course suspensions or reopenings.

How to play golf safely during the COVID-19 pandemic

Many medical experts believe that golf is one of the safest activities you can participate in during the current outbreak as long as you take proper precautions. These include social distancing with the other golfers at the course and in your group, not sharing a golf cart with an immediate family member you live with, not shaking hands after the round and not socializing in the clubhouse afterwards.

The Golf & Heath Project, supported by the World Golf Foundation, posted these safety guidelines for players.

The National Golf Course Operators Association also posted approved guildelines here.

Golf Course Operators

Pro golf tour schedule updates (April 7)

Competition has been suspended on the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and European Tour

• The PGA Tour has released a proposed and amended 2020 schedule that would return at the Charles Schwab Challenge on May 21 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Click here to view their latest statement on March 17. View the current schedule here.
• The European Tour canceled events through the DDF Irish Open.
• The LPGA has announced it's intentions to resume the schedule on June 19th at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. The Evian Masters has been rescheduled for August 6-9.

Is Topgolf open?

Topgolf closed all of its locations in the U.S. and U.K. on March 18th until further notice.

Headlines archive

(4/3) Iowa golf courses open to state residents only

(4/3) Michigan lawmaker wants to reopen golf courses

(4/3) Maine Governor orders golf courses closed until May 1

(4/2) Dunn County allowing golf members to play despite Wisconsin state mandate

(4/1) Are Colorado golf courses allowed to open? No statewide answer in stay-at-home mandate

(4/1) Honolulu mayor orders privately-owned golf courses to close as well

(3/31) NGF releases results from golf market study on coronavirus impact

(3/31) Arizona Governor's stay-at-home order exempts golf courses

(3/30) Ohio reverses previous ruling shutting down golf courses

(3/30) Wisconsin golf course operators pleading their case with government to reopen

(3/30) USGA: What happens if you don't maintain a golf course?

(3/29) Golf operators discuss COVID-19 impact

(3/29) Carmel, Indiana mayor reverses golf course closure order, allows them to reopen

(3/28) Myrtle Beach City Council reverses decision, permits golf
(3/28) Pinehurst auction announced to support employees
(3/28) Pinehurst auction announced to support employees
(3/28) Ohio golf courses not exempt, must close until April 6, says Ohio Department of Health
(3/28) Ohio golf courses not exempt, must close until April 6, says Ohio Department of Health
(3/28) What is 'essential' in U.S.? Golf, guns and more
(3/28) What is 'essential' in U.S.? Golf, guns and more
(3/27) Chicago Tribune: Private clubs adhering to government directive to stay closed
(3/27) Chicago Tribune: Private clubs adhering to government directive to stay closed
(3/27) Washington state golf courses are non-essential businesses, course maintenance permitted only
(3/27) Washington state golf courses are non-essential businesses, course maintenance permitted only
(3/27) New York State Golf Association confirms with Governor's office that courses may remain open with restrictions
(3/27) New York State Golf Association confirms with Governor's office that courses may remain open with restrictions
(3/26) WPTV reports Palm Beach County closes all non-essential businesses including golf courses
(3/26) WPTV reports Palm Beach County closes all non-essential businesses including golf courses
(3/25) Riverside County (Calif.) is enforcing state shelter-in-place mandate and ordering Coachella Valley golf courses to close (Desert Sun)
(3/25) Riverside County (Calif.) is enforcing state shelter-in-place mandate and ordering Coachella Valley golf courses to close (Desert Sun)
(3/25) Orange County, Florida institutes Stay-at-Home order. Golf Courses exempt
(3/25) Orange County, Florida institutes Stay-at-Home order. Golf Courses exempt
(3/25) Office of Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers confirms golf courses are included in non-essential mandate and must close until April 24
(3/25) Office of Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers confirms golf courses are included in non-essential mandate and must close until April 24
(3/25) Connecticut State Golf Association (CSGA) confirms courses may remain open with restrictions.
(3/25) Connecticut State Golf Association (CSGA) confirms courses may remain open with restrictions.
(3/24) Bandon Dunes announced on March 24 they will close until April 6
(3/24) Bandon Dunes announced on March 24 they will close until April 6
(3/23) Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan closed all non-essential businesses on March 23 which includes golf courses
(3/23) Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan closed all non-essential businesses on March 23 which includes golf courses
(3/23) Overseas, the Prime Minister of the United Kindgom issued a new order on the evening of March 23 that included the closure of all golf courses. England Golf issued this statement and later noted that greenkeepers are still permitted to come to work to maintain the course
(3/23) Overseas, the Prime Minister of the United Kindgom issued a new order on the evening of March 23 that included the closure of all golf courses. England Golf issued this statement and later noted that greenkeepers are still permitted to come to work to maintain the course
(3/23) In South Florida, Miami-Dade and Broward counties have suspended operations at their golf courses
(3/23) In South Florida, Miami-Dade and Broward counties have suspended operations at their golf courses

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